Welcome back! Hope everyone is getting as excited as I am for September to end and October to finally arrive! Halloween is only 39 days away!! Woo-hoo!! For #4 in this countdown to Halloween I’ve chosen a professional librarian must have! Miss Smith and the Haunted Library by Michael Garland.
This is part of a series by Garland about Miss Smith, her incredible storybook, and her unique classroom of students, including Zack. Miss Smith is Zack’s favorite teacher, and one fall day she enters the classroom (in her bright red short hair, black leather jacket, and Blondie pin) and announces they will be taking a field trip to the library! At the library they meet Virginia Creeper, the librarian with “…blue hair, pale skin, and deep dark eyes…” who decides to read to them from Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook. Previous readers of this series can just imagine the chaos that occurs as this librarian reads the tales of the Headless Horseman, Frankenstein, Dracula, and others. THEY COME OUT OF THE BOOK! The whole library is filled with the best villans and monsters of literature (and Halloween!) as the librarian selects different parts of their stories to read. Just as Zack and his fellows students begin to really worry, Virginia Creeper hands out apple cider and cookies and the party begins! The best Halloween Party any child could ever imagine attending! But when the seniors’ book club attempts to come into the library it is up to Zack to finish reading the stories and return the characters to the Incredible Storybook before the monsters can scare the seniors’ reading club!
This book is a well written and fun read for school age children. Miss Smith and her Incredible Storybook seem to cause mischief and mayhem wherever they are, but children are given great characters to find out more about. The author doesn’t tell the stories of the characters, but children will instantly become intrigued to discover more about them after reading a few brief words about their notorious natures and seeing the fantastic illustrations.The author even includes “Where to Find Scary Creatures: A guide by Virginia Creeper” at the back of the book. It is a listing of all the characters mentioned that came out of the Incredible Storybook, a picture of them, and what story they belong to. Children can use this guide to discover more scary stories and to learn the tales behind some of literatures best villans and monsters (and Halloween favorites!).
The writing is very fast-paced and fun. The story moves quickly and the actual writing leaves a lot of the storytelling to the pictures. The author just adds context to what the reader is looking at on a particular page. This allows children to focus more on the detailed illustrations than on the writing.
The illustrations, their detail, and their boldness, add to the fun and joy of looking at this book. The comical nature of the monsters detract from their “scariness,” while at the same time there is so many of them piling up on each page you can sense the anxiety of numerous villans being in one space. Each page is just cramped with different characters for children to look at. You will need to go through this book more than once to see every nuance (my favorite is when Miss Smith and the Red Queen are arguing behind Virginia Creeper’s chair, can you find it too?). The author has added some fun things for adults as well such as Miss Smith’s “Blondie” pin and the seniors’ reading club’s book of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
A fantastic story of Halloween’s best literary characters which is also a great resource for more “scary stories” for children to find out more about! Until next time, HAPPY SCARY READINGS!
Author: Michael Garland
Series: Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook, Miss Smith Reads Again!, Miss Smith Under the Ocean
Age: 5-11 ( younger children may enjoy the pictures, but young school age children from grades 1st-5th will probably get the most enjoyment out of this particular book).
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Book, New York, New York (A division of Penguin Young Readers Group)